Embracing My Inner-Merlin

I've realized over the years that I would not be a very good practicing Christian. Nor for that matter would I be a sterling example of a practicing Druid, Muslim, Pagan, Buddhist or any other ISM or IST. My problem comes in making the effort to embrace that which I cannot see. Faith, to specific.

This isn't to say I don't touch the "Mystic" now and again. Rather, my own moments of embracing the Mystic happened to be almost always connected to people. I can't see love or intimacy or desire; but I know it exists. (I know what you are thinking—but let's move on anyway.)

This is not a lead up to announcing a conversion experience or public expression of a new love or a particularly transforming moment of intimacy. It's a lead up to talking about The Philip Stein "Wine Wand".

To quote from the little bejeweled tool's promotional material, "The Philip Stein® Wine
Wand is a breakthrough device that uses
natural energy to aerate wine, enhancing
flavors and aroma almost instantly."

"The elegant wand with encapsulated glass jewels uses natural frequencies to
perfectly aerate wine. By inserting the wand into a wine bottle/decanter for 5
minutes, or in a glass for 2 or 3 minutes, the Philip Stein® Wine Wand releases
the wine’s natural aromas and flavors to achieve their full potential while not
changing the taste you love.

The makers also refer to this little implement at "mysterious"…and indeed it is.

Accepting this kind of thing strikes me as having to embrace my inner Merlin; as magic; Hocus Pocus.

I'm not opposed to Hocus Pocus. And I've always thought possessing magical powers might be pretty convenient assuming it came with no obligation to purchase cauldrons, expensive implements or inappropriate costumes. Nevertheless, I'm not one to pursue my inner hocus pocus. So this is why I was very skeptical of the "Wine Wand" when it was sent to me to try. Being opened minded and appreciative of the Wine Wand's efforts to reach out to me, I gave this new Wand a try. Luckily there are instructions.

"Pour a small amount of wine from a
freshly opened bottle into two identical
glasses, placing them several feet apart
on a non-conductive surface (not glass
or metal). Place the wand into one
glass, wait 2 to 3 minutes and taste the
difference! The difference is most significant with a
freshly opened bottle since the aeration
process starts the moment you open it."

What bothered me most about this Philip Stein Wine Wand was that it seemed to work. The Wand2
difference between the two glasses of young Australian Syrah I tested it with were pretty easy to detect. The non-hocus pocus glass glass, tasted upon pouring, was more closed and tight than the Magic Glass where the Wine Wand sat for a few minutes. The Magic Syrah was fleshier, more aromatic and even somewhat tastier. 

But I'm still at a loss. what was it about the long glass tube, the glass jewels in the elegant little tube and its moment of stillness in the glass that created the Magic Syrah? I don't' know. I don't know what mystical (or natural) force to attribute this to. I don't know what "natural energy" is or how it accomplished this transformation.

This idea that "It works, but I don't know how and don't know why" is the sort of claim I've heard or read about in relation to many other things in my life. And it has always been policy to accept the claim, give the practice under consideration a try, then generally move on when my world is not rocked or even nudged the way it was claimed it was going to be. Hence my youthful and singular invovlement with Magic Mushrooms that were supposed to allow me to "float above your body and see reality the way it is, dude" according to a dorm-mate at Humboldt State University in 1985.

The Philip Stein Wine Wand is not for the faint of heart. It comes with a beautiful little leather pouch made of alligator, python or crocodile for a price of $325. Or you can obtain the authentic Black Carbon Fiber version that retails for $425.


23 Responses

  1. Thomas Pellechia - November 17, 2008

    One word: hysteria!!!
    A few more words: wishing makes it so.
    One more word to gain the reason behind using it: why?

  2. Jeff - November 17, 2008

    Phew. Tom, I’m glad you found the same results that I did.
    I think the Wine Wand is pretty cool and it does work.
    I’m not sure I would relieve myself of $325 to buy it myself, but it does do what it claims.

  3. Fredric Koeppel - November 17, 2008

    you should do this test blind with three glasses of the same wine, one with the magic wand treatment, conducted by someone else. and then do it with three or four different wines in the same circumstance.

  4. Fredric Koeppel - November 17, 2008

    …. and what, if I may ask, are “glass jewels”?

  5. Ted Henry - November 17, 2008

    I would love to see a regular (non-magic) glass rod used as a control as well. Also-how about another sample that was splashed around in a decanter or otherwise exposed to oxygen for three minutes? Please don’t just buy into this “natural frequencies” BS, more research please! (and do it blind of course)

  6. Thomas Pellechia - November 17, 2008

    I was flippant in my first response, but the two-glass research recommended isn’t even close to research.
    As others said, it’s got to be done with at least three, probably four variations of the same wine. It has also got to be done blind–the taster should taste wine from the glasses with no foreknowledge over what went into which glass.
    Fred, “glass jewels” are those things that belong to the Glass family and cringe at an oncoming kick in the groin…

  7. Fredric Koeppel - November 17, 2008

    right, ouch!

  8. Tim Bell - November 17, 2008

    I’ve got some glass jewels I’ll sell you for only $250!

  9. Morton Leslie - November 17, 2008

    It’s quite well known to all crystal enthusiasts that devices like the Magic Wand work when we project our wishes into the crystal, which in turn sends out vibrations that change the wine. It is good that wine drinkers are learning that magic crystals have a role in teaching us to open to and trust our intuitive abilities and experience the connectedness of the natural world. It is only up to our imagination where we might insert this magic wand to utilize its healing forces.

  10. Julie - November 17, 2008

    What do you think about those wine glasses that aerate the wine by design? It’s my understanding that the folks at Greystone’s CIA just began using them. Just curious if you’ve ever tried one and what you think.

  11. Geri - November 17, 2008

    If you’re into wines, you might want to be drinking organic ones. Here’s why http://www.newrinkles.com/index.php/archive/organic-vines-create-better-wines/

  12. East Coast winemaker - November 18, 2008

    Organic wines most certainly do contain sulfites. And, wine “made from organic grapes” are allowed to have added sulfites to them as well.

  13. Dirty - November 18, 2008

    Any post that involves wine, magic mushrooms, and crystal wands is a winner in my book!
    With several blog posts of this improving the wine, does it provide enough improvement to justify the $325? That is about the price of a swanky lava-lamp infused decanter.

  14. East Coast winemaker - November 18, 2008

    You could put a twig in a glass of wine and it would taste different too. I have a whole backyard full of $325 twigs. Is anyone interested?

  15. larry schaffer - November 18, 2008

    As with anything else in life, as far as I’m concerned, one should look at a product like this with a bit of skepticism, but with as open a mind as possible.
    I agree with Thomas – you and everyone else should more rigorously ‘test’ this device, against controls but also against other so-called ‘wine gadgets’ and compare / contrast results . . .
    Just my $.02 . . . .

  16. Morton Leslie - November 18, 2008

    Geri, Geri, Geri… I read your piece. Where did you get your information that grapes are farmed with massive doses of pesticides, herbacides and that those wines contain toxins that other wines do not? That’s a pretty severe and general statement without any data or reference to back it up.
    Secondly I read your list of recommended wineries. You should take a closer look at the wineries you recommend. I visited one of your suggestions which claims to be certified biodynamic. Their grape supply consists of three different classifications…1)”sustainable” (allowed to use all the toxins and poisons you dislike) 2} organic (allowed to use “organic” toxins and poisons) 3)biodynamic which is a third set of rules that don’t mean anything and only apply to a small fraction of that winery’s grape supply. Those green wood endposts they use? In case you didn’t know, those are heavily treated with arsenic and are leaching poison into the ground. Funny you can do that and be certified biodynamic? That tour they take you on by tractor? That is all set up to appeal to your emotions, not your brain. Like when they tell you they irrigate during a full moon and that the tidal effect of the full moon helps the vine bring water to the leaves. You should: 1} study botany and learn about transpiration 2) just think for a minute that tidal forces work two ways, high and low, and when it comes to any effect on the vine and its nutrition, they effectively cancel each other out.
    You should also note that no winery ever goes biodynamic or organic, puts up a solar panel or does anything they can deem “natural” without sending out a press release. This is what we do to appeal to your emotions and sell our wine. Right now green is in, we are all green…but you shouldn’t believe everything we tell you.

  17. Thomas Pellechia - November 18, 2008

    You know the refrain: wishing can make it so…

  18. MR - November 18, 2008

    Does this remind anyone of some sort of sex toy, especially in light of the Philip Stein slogan “Feel It”?

  19. Dylan - November 18, 2008

    As other commenters have made note the test you performed is not too accurate. Usually, the “try it for yourself” based on directions given by the company is because they already know the answer. One with smart business knowledge would not sample their product with those directions otherwise. Also, this offers an additional valence of credibility because you were the tester–“How could it be wrong if I tried for myself? They weren’t telling me, I told me.”
    I, too, am interested if a normal glass rod would produce the same effect. Would you consider upping the ante on your experiment?

  20. Geri - November 18, 2008

    The high pesticide levels of California grapes has been reported by the CA Dept of Pesticide Regulation for many years. Wine grapes are #1. Check the list here:
    I can understand that as a wine maker, you might not want that information to be widely known and you might view organic wineries as competition.
    Now, if you plan to import grapes, the situation is even worse. See here

  21. East Coast winemaker - November 19, 2008

    Yes, grapes are sprayed more than indigenous crops. But you make several leaps of logic in an obvious attempt to scare wine drinkers away:
    1. Application of sprays does not equal consumption of sprays. I’ve been in the production end of the business for 12 years. Why would I, or anyone else, jeopardize my health if I wasn’t confident in the safety of my methods?
    2.Organic wines are not “toxic-free”. Copper sulfate is an organic fungicide that I doubt you would feel comfortable knowing was sprayed on the grapes used to make your organic wine. It accumulates in the soil and eventually poisons it.
    3.The idea that pesticide-free wines are better in flavor is ludicrous. Do you have even a shred of evidence to back this up?
    4.Organic wines do have sulfites. Sulfites are naturally produced by yeast. And where did you get the idea that connoisseurs can pick up on terroir in sulfite-free wines? The old-world wines that we all base our standards of terroir on were all made with sulfites!
    You’ve been bamboozled by the scare tactics of hippies and prohibitionists.

  22. JohnLopresti - November 19, 2008

    Maybe the glass rod reminds me of a flaw in the shipping arguments: although well made wine after shipment is going to remain superior to poorly made wine shipped or unshipped, the shipping triggers many colloidal changes.
    However, I like the gypsy comment that crystal is known to do things only Baccarat and other gazers understand. But How will I explain to my lady friend what the crystal swizzler is supposed to do? I could say it reverses the jumbling of antyocyanins caused by case handling and/or shipping. Or, I could simply be sure she never sees the crystal implement, prepare the glasses behind the winebar out of sight, fully knowing hers was the glass that is going to be far superior. But this waxes too mystic for a mere thread comment.
    NB: young Syrahs sound like a difficult test, but perhaps the rod is most effective on inordinately young wines; I would add to that thought the issue of vines with scant wood because of their recent planting. I would need to do a tasteoff between knotty vine syrahs, now that would be a vibe blender worth a world of mystery stories, some of them partly true.

  23. HomeWinemaker - December 2, 2008

    I have tried this wand, and I am an extremely skeptical person to say the least, with a very scientific mind.
    I conducted an experiment where we poured a glass of a freshly opened bottle of napa cab wine as a control and set it aside. At the same time we stuck the wand in the bottle. 5-10 minutes later the wine from the bottle had considerably less harsh tannins than the glass. I mean a lot less! But here is the weird thing.
    Since I don’t buy this crystal frequency business, I took the wand out of the bottle and put it in the control glass. Minutes later (up to half an hour later), the wine in the control glass never lost its harsh tannins and the wine in the bottle was still smoother! So something else must be at play here, and more expriments are needed to figure out why the bottle tasted so much smoother.
    What’s even worse is that I repeated the same experiment on two other bottles and in one case there was no noticeable difference, and in the other case if there was a difference it didn’t work in favor of the wand.
    I am still tying to figure out why it seemed to “work” in that first experiment, not because I believe in the magic wand, but because I want to know how to make a tannic wine tastes so much smoother, and it did taste sooo much smoother, seemingly by following certain aeration techniques. Maybe too much air in the glass was not good for some wines, and the wine in the bottle was spared that fate.
    If anyone has any ideas about what happened, please share them.

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